Champions League: Benzema sends Real Madrid to quarter-finals

A simple formality

Champions League: Benzema sends Real Madrid to quarter-finals

A simple formality. Real Madrid clinched their ticket to the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday (March 15) by beating Liverpool 1-0 in the eighth leg. Striker ? Karim Benzema of course! Victory of a very small goal therefore, far from the flamboyant 5-2 to go, but the essential remains the qualification.

All in control, the "Kings of Europe" had many chances, but it was not until the 78th that Benzema managed to break through the Alisson wall, taking advantage of a drag ball slipped by Vinicius, after a very nice pass filtered by Eduardo Camavinga through the English defense.

But the French goleador grimaced immediately after scoring: Returning from a minor ankle injury after a week's absence, Real's 'Nueve' demanded the change in stride and limped off, visibly hurt in the an ankle, again. "A little pain, a blow, nothing serious," reassured the Frenchman after the match.

As expected, the Italian wizard with four Champions Leagues (a record) learned the lesson of last year against Chelsea, and drew a less defensive and more player pattern. Winners 3-1 in the first leg, the "Merengues" had been pushed to extra time by the "Blues", but Benzema, like Wednesday, had qualified his team, for the semi-finals this time, thanks to a goal in extra time (96th). “What happened last season gave us tremendous confidence. And it showed on this double confrontation", underlined "Carletto" after the match.

On Wednesday, the French center-forward, who often teamed up with the untenable Vinicius, could have opened the scoring earlier (14th, 52nd, 69th), but was regularly caught offside. And the Brazilian blaster from Real was one of the first to alert the Brazilian goalkeeper from Liverpool in the 14th, with a recovery at the far post, miraculously released by Alisson.

Camavinga, surprise starter in midfield in place of his French compatriot Aurélien Tchouaméni, also brought a sigh to the Bernabeu a few minutes later (20th): his heavy strike, from twenty-five meters, was grazed by Alisson then crashed into the crossbar. And amidst all this, Liverpool also had their chances of closing the four-goal gap that separated them from the quarters before kick-off. But neither Mohamed Salah (7th), nor Diogo Jota (18th), nor Cody Gakpo (26th), nor Darwin Nunez (33rd) managed to cross Thibaut Courtois, impeccable.

It must be said that a defeat by more than three goals at the Bernabeu was highly unlikely: according to Spanish statistician MisterChip, Real lost only 11 of their 1,777 games at the Bernabeu by more than three goals. . And none in European competitions.

"We needed to do a standout performance to make up the difference...and we didn't do a standout performance. We had a good game, but Real were in control the whole time. Real were huge, that's why they went, "summarized Jurgen Klopp in a post-match press conference.

On Wednesday, for its 300th Champions League match, Real Madrid therefore offered a full evening to its supporters: after the "Champions of Miracles" last year, the 14th in the history of the club, the history of love between the "Big Ears Cup" and the Spanish club continues.

For its part, Liverpool, dropped in the league title race (6th at 24 points from Arsenal), and eliminated from all other competitions, now has almost nothing left to play for. Klopp will have to try to keep his group mobilized to try to grab the top 4 in the Premier League, synonymous with qualification for the next edition of the Champions League. Fourth-placed Tottenham are six points behind the Reds.